Herschel Saltzman (October 27, 1915 – September 28, 1994), better known as Harry Saltzman, was a Canadian theatre and film producer, best known for his role in co-producing the James Bond film series with Albert R. Broccoli. He lived most of his life in Denham, Buckinghamshire, England.
Life and career
Saltzman was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, the son of Jewish immigrants. Raised in Saint John, New Brunswick for the first seven years of his life, Saltzman was 30 when he learned where he'd actually been born. His father, a horticulturalist, then moved the family to Cleveland, Ohio. He ran away from home at the age of 15, according to daughter Hilary Saltzman in the Ian Fleming Foundation documentary Harry Saltzman: Showman. At about the age of 17, he joined a circus and travelled with them for some years.
In 1932, Saltzman moved to Paris, France to study political science and economics. However "within a year," he was "hand-picking talent for 40 two-a-day vaudeville houses all over Europe." Saltzman claimed that he had worked as an assistant for French film director René Clair, who came to America in 1940 to make the film The Flame of New Orleans.
In 1942, Saltzman signed a booking contract with Fanchon & Marco Enterprises. Saltzman went to the West Coast to sign big picture names. Saltzman sought the Ritz Brothers, but due to film commitments, they could not sign. In 1943, Saltzman was managing "The Gilbert Brothers' Combined Circus". According to an advert, the 1943 season began 26 May in Clifton, New Jersey, and was booked solid through the Eastern American states until Mid-October.
Shortly after the Second World War began, he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Vancouver, British Columbia. By the beginning of World War II in 1939, he was serving in the Canadian Army in France. He eventually received a medical discharge in Trenton, Ontario in 1943, and joined the US Psychological Warfare Bureau, because he wanted "to get back to Europe."
In 1945, Saltzman helped Lin Yutang establish UNESCO's film division, but eventually quit due to "east-west differences" which to him seemed "so hopeless". Saltzman spent a year with the French government's Ministry of Reconstruction. At that point, he decided he wanted back in show business.
After the war, Saltzman ended up in Paris, where he met Jacqueline, a refugee from Romania, whom he subsequently married. In Paris, Saltzman became part of the writer Colette's entourage. He worked as a talent scout for European productions on stage, television and in film, but gradually became more successful producing stage plays. He moved to the United States in the 1950s. In the late 1950s, Saltzman and Rhea Fink formed the "Mountie Enterprises Corporation", to operate coin-operated hobby horses. The first hobby horses appeared in department stores, "on floors where children's goods are sold." By February 1951 "Mountie Enterprises Corporation" and Saltzman's new company "Rider Amusement Corporation" reported brisk business, as both companies got contracts to install coin-operated hobby horses in major department stores in numerous American cities. Saltzman claimed to earn US$35 a day per hobby horse.
He then became production supervisor on Robert Montgomery Presents and produced Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion. Judith Krantz claims that she and Saltzman briefly dated. Krantz's father liked Saltzman and found him an entertaining conversationalist. Krantz also claims that Saltzman proposed to her. She declined claiming that he wasn't her physical type, which she regretted because she thought he was "a wonderful companion, with a fantastic imagination." He moved, what was by then his family of four, to the UK in the mid-1950s, where he once again produced theatre. He entered the film business by producing The Iron Petticoat (1956), a play adaptation. Saltzman started Woodfall Film Productions with Tony Richardson and John Osborne, and produced other acclaimed social realism dramas such as 1959's Look Back in Anger and 1960's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Film director Anthony Mann noted the dichotomy in Saltzman's career: "Harry used to make great pictures; now he makes very successful ones. After all, you can't be an artist all your life."
In early 1961, excited by reading the James Bond novel Goldfinger, he made a bid to land the film rights to the character. Saltzman co-founded Danjaq, S.A. with Albert R. Broccoli in 1962. It was a holding company responsible for the copyright and trademarks of James Bond on screen, and the parent company of Eon Productions, which they also set up as a film production company for the Bond films. The moniker Danjaq is a combination of Broccoli's and Saltzman's wives' first names, Dana and Jacqueline.
In 1958, he had set up the production company Lowndes Productions, but he didn't use it for film production until 1965, and only used it for eight productions thereafter, among them his three Harry Palmer films with Michael Caine: The Ipcress File (1965), Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967). The company's last production came in 1988, and it was finally dissolved in 1992.
Saltzman produced other films between the James Bond and Harry Palmer productions. These include his World War II pet project Battle of Britain (1969), and Call Me Bwana (1963), the only film to be produced by Eon Productions outside of the James Bond franchise. Saltzman also attempted to make a film about Canadian Métis leader Cuthbert Grant.
In 1969, Saltzman borrowed 70 million Swiss Francs (US$40,000,000) from the Union Bank of Switzerland. In 1970, Saltzman won control of the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation from chairman Patrick Frawley in a proxy fight. However, by 1972 Saltzman reportedly had to sell off 370,000 shares of Technicolor stock, to repay his loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland. Film Bulletin also claimed, that some of Saltzman's former allies in the 1970 proxy had now forced Saltzman to sell the stocks - which they then purchased - and were now seeking to oust him from the Technicolor board. Saltzman filed several lawsuits against Technicolor executive board members, claiming conspiracy "seeking to retain his positions in the firm." Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz claims Technicolor was selling at $30 per share, when Saltzman took control of the company in 1970; it was selling at $8 a share by 1972, at the time Saltzman was ousted. At some point, Saltzman defaulted on the interest payments to the Swiss Bank.
According to a 1978 court decision, Saltzman and Broccoli had allegedly agreed to dissolve Danjaq, S.A. in 1972, but Broccoli later allegedly refused to honour the agreement. Saltzman then unsuccessfully attempted to have the Swiss courts dissolve the company. By autumn that year, Saltzman's financial situation was "desperate." In March 1974, the Los Angeles Times reported that Saltzman was attempting to sell Paramount Pictures his 50% share of the Bond film franchise. On April 24, 1978, Sir Patrick O'Connor of the British High Court ordered Saltzman to pay an American law firm GB£13,000 (US$28,000) plus GB£5,000 (US$10,500) in post-judgment interest and court costs. Saltzman had retained the firm to resolve his financial difficulties.
Saltzman's 1970's-productions also proved problematic. A science fiction musical, Toomorrow starring Olivia Newton-John, was withdrawn from release and resulted in several lawsuits. Also in 1970, Saltzman cancelled a planned film, several weeks before shooting was to begin, about the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, starring Rudolf Nureyev. Director Tony Richardson believed that Saltzman had overextended himself, and did not have the funds to make the film. Throughout the 1970s, Saltzman struggled to make a film of The Micronauts - a "shrunken man", which was a science fiction story to have starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick - investing much money into the doomed project, that was finally shelved in the late 1970s. Due to numerous financial difficulties, Saltzman sold his 50% stake in Danjaq to United Artists Corporation in 1975. Subsequently, his health also declined and he became depressed.
In the early 1970s, Saltzman's wife Jacqueline was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In 1972, the Saltzmans relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida where Jacqueline's sister lived. In March 1977, Saltzman sold his English country mansion, and moved full-time to St. Petersburg. Jacqueline Saltzman died of cancer on January 31, 1980.
In 1980, Saltzman purchased the theatrical production company H.M. Tennent Ltd., becoming its chairman.
In 1982, Saltzman sold his 15-room Venetian Isles, St. Petersburg, Florida-home, and moved back to London; now widowed, his two oldest children were out of school, and his youngest was studying in Switzerland.
Saltzman all but retired from the movie business thereafter. He had long desired to produce a film on the life of Vaslav Nijinsky, based on biographies, the rights to which he had acquired in the 1960s. He has an executive producer credit on the film Nijinsky in 1980, and the 1988 British-Italian-Yugoslavian co-production Time of the Gypsies.
In 1992, Saltzman dissolved H.M. Tennant.
Saltzman was married three times. He was briefly married in California. He then married Jacqueline. Harry and Jacqueline Saltzman had three children: Hilary, Steven and Christopher. Harry Saltzman subsequently married Adriana Ghinsberg.
In 1960, Broccoli's Warwick Films undertook to produce and self-distribute the biographical drama Oscar Wilde. Its lack of commercial success began a chain of events leading to dissolution of the company in bankruptcy in 1961, and increased tensions between the two partners. Already in disagreement over James Bond, they ended their partnership, freeing Broccoli to revisit his decision that the Bond novels would make a good film series, only now to be told by the publishers the rights were unavailable. Later, screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz, had a working dinner in New York on another script with Broccoli. Mankowitz knew Saltzman casually from Broadway productions the two had been involved with, and knew Saltzman held the rights to Bond. He offered to introduce the two men, and arranged a meeting for the next morning. Saltzman and Broccoli formed a partnership in 1962 to create the holding company Danjaq, LLC and the production company Eon Productions, and almost immediately began recruiting personnel such as production designer Ken Adam, and teaming writers including Richard Maibaum and Mankowitz. With the rights to Casino Royale having gone to an early television adaptation, the team began considering the best novel to adapt for introducing the character. After meeting with United Artists and having received a million dollars in financing, the filmmakers chose Dr. No. Saltzman would remain Broccoli's partner up through the ninth film in the series, 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun.
Saltzman came close to rejecting Paul McCartney's submission for the soundtrack to Live and Let Die. McCartney asked producer George Martin to approach the producers about the title song. Saltzman surprised Martin by asking who they could get to sing it, suggesting only black female vocalists. Martin pointed out that if he did not take McCartney as the singer, he did not get the song. Saltzman compromised by having McCartney do the title version, and B. J. Arnau do a soul version in the "Fillet of Soul" nightclub.
List of Saltzman's productions
- The Iron Petticoat, 1956
- Look Back in Anger, 1958
- Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 1960
- The Entertainer, 1960
- Dr. No, 1962
- From Russia with Love, 1963
- Call Me Bwana, 1963
- Goldfinger, 1964
- The Ipcress File, 1965
- And There Came a Man, 1965
- Thunderball, 1965 (credited as Executive Producer)
- Chimes at Midnight, 1965
- Un monde nouveau (a.k.a. A New World), 1966 (credited as "presenter")
- Funeral in Berlin, 1966
- Shock Troops, 1967 (credited as "presenter")
- You Only Live Twice, 1967
- Israel: A Right to Live, 1967 (documentary)
- Billion Dollar Brain, 1967
- Play Dirty, 1968
- Battle of Britain, 1969
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969
- Toomorrow, 1970
- Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
- Days of Fury, 1973
- Live and Let Die, 1973
- The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974
- Nijinsky, 1980
- Time of the Gypsies, 1988